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In-depth Feature:  Synthogy Ivory 1.5
Albert Potts writes: .

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Sitting Down to Play

Ivory Effects screen (click to enlarge)
A large part of what makes a sampled piano realistic is not only how it sounds, but how it feels to play. My main keyboard is Yamaha’s venerable KX88 weighted controller. The keys are spring loaded, so it’s not exactly like playing an acoustic grand, but the KX88 is still one of the better keyboard actions built. Interaction between the controller and your sampled piano is very important and I felt the weighted keys of the KX88 and Ivory went together exceptionally well.

In terms of playability I found Ivory to be among the best, if not the best, sampled piano that I’ve used. Velocity layers felt like they were in the right place, the sustain of the notes felt natural, releases felt good. I particularily liked the softer tones, these to me sounded and felt excellent. Some of the loud samples seemed a bit strident to my ears, but that is getting very picky.

I am surprised at the difference the two new layers in version 1.5 make. Transitions between layers are smoother, and I find it easier to voice chords naturally, i.e. bring out the top melody note of a chord so it stands out above the rest. Synthogy also noise reduced the entire library for version 1.5, not that there was any noise that bothered me in version 1! For users of Ivory version 1, upgrading to version 1.5 is worth the upgrade fee in my opinion.

To get the maximum feeling of realism it is also important to set your DAW hosts buffer as low as possible, so that the delay between striking the key and the resulting sound is minimal. With piano this is crucial, especially in terms of playability. In this regard it is important to mention that Ivory takes a lot of processing power. If you’ve got a fast new Mac or PC this should be no problem at all. But if you are running an older machine and/or creating a dense arrangement you may have to set the buffer higher than you would like in order to save the CPU cycles.

On my dual 800 G4 I am able to run Ivory with a buffer setting low enough to make playing comfortable. I sometimes record the track to audio in order to save processing power. In my opinion, a lot of people can use this plugin even on slower machines if they manage their CPU resources properly. Check the CPU requirements before purchasing.

Ivory 1.5 also offers off-line bounce, which allows the user render their performance with all of Ivory's features turned on and 120 note polyphony, regardless of how powerful the computer is, how much RAM is available, or the speed of the hard drive. Commonly known as track freeze in other DAW’s, this non-real time render allows users of slower computers to get the full benefit of Ivory’s sound and features. ‘Off-line’ bounce requires the latest updates to the plug-in on the Synthogy website, so check there for more details.

Additionally, Ivory has a selection of preset pianos to choose from, many of them designed for lower CPU usage. For example, if you are recording a rock track and will only need a bright Yamaha C7, you could simply load the loud samples of that piano. No need to load every layer, saving processing power.

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